Why don't more people say they were fired when they were fired?*

mason.jpgGroupon's ousted CEO Andrew Mason is receiving kudos for his willingness to truthfully describe what happened to him. Via Business Insider:

(This is for Groupon employees, but I'm posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)

People of Groupon,

After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.

This, of course, isn't the way it usually happens. Whenever a CEO or other senior executive gets canned, the company issues a press release that never, ever uses the word "fire." Here are some alternatives (via Quezi):

--Services no longer required
--Stepping down
--Assignment ended
--Pursuing other opportunities
--Going in different directions
--Elected to make a career transition
--Decided to change careers
--Contract not renewed
--Responsibilities have been reassigned

Actually, there are some very good reasons for the vagueness. The employee doesn't want to be branded a failure ("stepping down" is a lot softer and could be interpreted in more positive ways to a new employer) and the company doesn't want to appear unfeeling (there also could be some legal distinctions to consider). Mason sounds magnanimous in his parting memo - and indeed it's a nice note considering how tough it must be to get dismissed from the place you started up. But he's a rarity on many levels, starting with the fact that he owns nearly 47 million shares of Groupon, which are worth $213 million. Besides, he's only 32. Here are some other ways of saying your services are no longer required (the last one is my favorite):

--Assignment ended
--Position has been eliminated
--Released from the talent pool
--Made available to industry
--Contract not renewed
--End of trial period
--Involuntary separation
--Freed up for the future
--We really feel like we're holding you back here

*Reader points out that I left out the quintessential L.A. uphemism for getting fired: "Ankled."

More by Mark Lacter:
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Best to low-ball today's employment report
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Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent Work stories:
'Shameless honesty' is double-edged sword in business world
Daily Journal stick-in-the-muds should lighten up a little
Why don't more people say they were fired when they were fired?*
Work-at-home prohibition riles Yahoo workers
The ways and means of whether to call in sick

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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